Why you must use keywords in your job application

Illustrative representation of Why you must use keywords in your job application

Employers and recruiters sometimes use 'keywords' to quickly filter job applications. In some cases, recruitment agencies use software programs to scan for and automatically reject applications without these 'keywords'.

When you are writing your cover letter you need to match your statements about your work experience and skills to the employer’s keywords.

What are keywords?

Employers make statements in their job ads about the kind of candidate they are looking for. You need to identify these statements and the words describing the essential traits they are looking for. These are the employer’s keywords.

For example, a job ad for a sales assistant might say something like:

"We're looking for high energy team members who love to keep active and busy. You will need to be able to thrive in a fast paced, team environment and always be willing to go the extra mile for our customers and team."

This ad tells you that this employer is looking for:

  • ‘high energy’ = someone who is enthusiastic and who shows initiative
  • ‘active and busy’ = someone who can stay calm under pressure and can do a fairly physical job if needed (can imply that heavy lifting is involved in the job)
  • ‘team environment’ = someone who is able to work collaboratively in a team
  • ‘go the extra mile for our customers’ = someone who is willing and able to provide a high level of customer service.

Hints for including keywords in your application:

  • Read the job ad closely and underline all the words used to describe what the employer is looking for.
  • Think about how your skills and abilities stack up against these requirements.
  • Tailor your application so that you only include experience and outline skills that match what is being asked for in the job ad.
  • Try and reflect the employer's language as much as possible in your application. E.g. By stating 'I am a high energy person who will go the extra mile for customers'.

This workbook can help you:

…Or you can browse Job Jumpstart for other ideas and suggestions of what to do next.